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Ecobank Gains Most in Six Weeks as Profit Advances: Lagos Mover

Ecobank Transnational Inc., the lender that operates in more African countries than any other, gained the most in more than six weeks after full-year profit rose 39 percent.

Ecobank’s shares traded in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, advanced 1.8 percent, the most since Feb. 12, to close at 14.05 naira. The stock has climbed 24 percent this year, compared with a 19 percent rally for the Nigerian Stock Exchange All-Share Index.

The Lome, Togo-based lender said late yesterday that profit after tax rose to $286.7 million in 2012 from $206.8 million a year earlier, boosted by acquisitions. Ecobank acquired Trust Bank Ltd., a closely held Ghanaian lender, last year and merged it with its local unit to create the biggest lender by assets in the West African country. It also bought Oceanic Bank International Plc, a Nigerian lender that had been bailed out by the central bank, in February last year.

“Ecobank’s operating efficiency continued its improving trend through the year,” Muyiwa Oni and Rele Adesina, analysts at Stanbic IBTC Holding Co. in Lagos, which has a buy recommendation on the bank, wrote in an e-mailed note to clients today. The “stronger than expected” results were boosted by a $72.6 million payment from the Asset Management Corp. of Nigeria related to the acquisition of Oceanic Bank, the analysts wrote.

Amcon was set up in 2010 after a debt crisis threated the collapse of Nigeria’s banking industry. It said it spent 5.6 trillion naira ($35.4 billion) in 2011 to acquire non-performing loans.

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